So I'm making the left turn off of southbound Third onto James. It's the 3/4, in the morning, and the seething masses are ever forming- no matter how many buses go through there (the 3/4 comes every 7 minutes, the most frequent daytime headway in the system), there's always enough people to make a full bus going up the hill. Especially at 0800 in the morning. Anyways, I'm turning, and there's a scraggly-looking gentlemen in the crosswalk that I should probably yield for. There's always someone crossing there. Once I was turning there, creeping (safely) towards a businessman crossing. "He has insurance," I said aloud, pretending not to slow down. The front of the bus erupted in laughter. Anyways, back to the scraggly-looking gentleman. I probably should yield for him and let him cross, but the timing isn't right, and I turn in front of him; this ends up blocking his path in the crosswalk, and he has to wait for me to finish turning before getting out of the street. He's angry, and I can hear him yelling. "Extremely bad vibrations," to quote Mr. Thompson, wafting through the air, and I'm silently thankful that he's not on the bus. But...no, here he comes, storming up onto the bus, and with fire in his blue eyes he yells, "did you not seem me crossing? Did you not see me?!" I look up at him, take a deep breath, and I say slowly, "You know, I apologize. I shoulda waited." In an instant the day restarted, all the steam was out of his sails, and he said in a normal tone, "that's all I wanted to hear. Thank you." Sometimes all somebody needs is the acknowledgement. He and I had an amiable conversation the rest of the way up the hill.
Just another "regular day" on the 4. My favorite kind. You can never be sure if you're gonna make it to the top of the James St. hill. You might lose the hill brake, the bus might lose power, we might roll back...it's the second steepest grade in the trolley network, with a slope of 18.4 degrees. The trolley bus can handle it, but there's something slightly nonsensical about taking a bus packed to the gills up and down that thing, and it's one of the many things I love about the 3/4. Basically, that it's ridiculous. Plus you get that nice moment of relief when you actually make it to the top and turn off the hill onto 9th avenue. The great edifice of Harborview is there waiting to greet you, and the street guys on the right corner hang around like permanent institutions, reminding you of all the wonderful constancies in the world. I can almost sense a collective relief on the part of the passengers sometimes as well, since that's where most people get off. One day I hopped out there myself to empty the trash bag, and one of the street perennials recognized me. Taller middle-aged fellow of medium build, dark skin and baggy beige sweats. He came over to say hey, and we exchanged fistpounds and wished each other well. It was a tiny moment, nestled in between thousands of others, but you can get high off of an exchange like that- two people interacting with each other for no other reason to spread some goodwill around. No agenda. Two guys on a sidewalk, just a smile and a fistbump. Works for me.